Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 20 April 1966

Mr OPPERMAN (Corio) (Minister for Immigration) . - in reply - The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) made a couple of suggestions and I think it would be advisable if I clarified the existing situation. All honorable members have referred to the streamlining of formalities by the introduction of the new cards. I should like to assure the honorable member for Batman that in other ways the formalities connected with the entry of immigrants to Australia are being carefully watched and efforts are made to finalise difficulties while the ship is travelling to the port of destination. At times delays occur, but they are unavoidable. Immigrants are arriving in a new country and they have to be received. A reception officer must seek them out and try to arrange accommodation for them as near as possible to their future places of employment. Cumbersome formalities have been eliminated as far as possible in this Bill and they are minimised by th«3 attention of officers of my Department on board ships between the Australian ports.

The honorable member expressed concern at the fingerprinting of Asians. This is not associated with my Department. To the best of my knowledge, this procedure is not required by any other Department. However, I will examine this matter. On the question of delays, I do not want to introduce a discordant note, and I know that this subject may be a little off course, but the honorable member for Batman set the course and I feel I should follow it. Delays at wharfs are not the fault only of medical officers, immigration officials or customs officers. I had the experience of arriving by ship in Melbourne on a Sunday at 7.30 a.m. and the waterside workers did not arrive until 10 o'clock. They worked until lunch time. Formalities were cleared and passengers were ready to leave but they had to wait until after the waterside workers had finished lunch before they could get their luggage. At 3.30, when only half the luggage had been unloaded, the passengers departed. They had to return subsequently to get the remainder of their baggage.

Mr Davies - Did the waterside workers know it was the Minister's luggage?

Mr OPPERMAN - At that time 1 did not make my identity known. I was then Minister for Shipping and Transport and I thought that revealing my identity might lead to further delays while I was questioned about the waterfront and shipping affairs generally. If we could establish co-operation between all parties concerned I am sure waterfront delays could be eliminated.

Mr Curtin - Could not the Minister approach the unions on this question? I think they would co-operate.

Mr OPPERMAN - It is a matter of co-operation between all parties concerned. People must be prepared to work odd and irritating hours because of the nature of the activity. The situation could then be more satisfactory for people coming to this country. However, I am sure we are on common ground when discussing this subject. My purpose was to indicate to the honorable member for Batman that it was not in just one section that delays occurred. I come now to the reference by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) to the naturalisation of migrants. It is fairly obvious that it is the desire of the Government that those who are eligible for naturalisation should be naturalised and become Australian citizens. Anything that is reasonable and workable in that regard will be carried out. Therefore, consideration will be given to the suggestion made by the honorable member for Swan.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Suggest corrections